Fresh organic vegetables

Organic or non Organic

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The question is should we be buying usually more expensive organic products or the conventionally grown counterparts. Some studies show that organic foods have more beneficial nutrients, such as antioxidants, than their conventionally grown counterparts and people with allergies to foods, chemicals, or preservatives often find their symptoms lessen or go away when they eat only organic foods.

As of June 30, 2009, the Organic Products Regulations require mandatory certification to the revised National Organic Standard for agricultural products represented as organic in international and inter-provincial trade, or that bear the federal organic agricultural products legend (or federal logo). Organic products that meet the requirements of the Organic Products Regulations must be certified by certification bodies that have been accredited by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).

Pesticides are widely used in conventional agriculture and residues remain on the produce. Organic produce contains fewer pesticides. Rinsing the produce does reduce but does not eliminate pesticides. Peeling sometimes helps, but valuable nutrients are lost with the skin.

Organic food is usually fresher because it doesn’t contain preservatives that make it last longer and usually making it taste better.

Organic farming practices reduce pollution (air, water, soil), conserve water, reduce soil erosion, increase soil fertility, and use less energy, making it better for the environment. Farming without pesticides is also better for nearby wildlife as well as people who live close to or work on farms.

According to the most comprehensive scientific analysis to date organic food has more of the antioxidant compounds linked to better health than regular food, and lower levels of toxic metals and pesticides.

A study in the UK concluded that statistically significant, meaningful differences, with a range of antioxidants being substantially higher, between 19% and 69% , in organic food. It is the first study to demonstrate clear and wide-ranging differences between organic and conventional fruits, vegetables and cereals. The researchers say the increased levels of antioxidants are equivalent to one to two portions of fruits and vegetables and would therefore be significant and meaningful in terms of human nutrition. Suggesting that switching to organic fruit and vegetables could give the same benefits as adding one or two portions to your daily intake.

Organically raised animals are not given antibiotics, growth hormones, or fed animal byproducts. The use of antibiotics in conventional meat production helps create antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria. This means that when someone gets sick from these strains they will be less responsive to antibiotic treatment. It is also beneficial to the animals who are given more space to move around and access to the outdoors, helping to keep the animals healthy.

Organic food is GMO-free. Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) or genetically engineered (GE) foods are plants or animals whose DNA has been altered in ways that cannot occur in nature or in traditional crossbreeding, most commonly in order to be resistant to pesticides or produce an insecticide.

Some fruit and vegetables have higher levels of pesticides than others, mostly being thing skinned making them susceptible to contamination, thicker skinned produce usually retains less pesticide residue.

The following would be better to buy organic:

  • Apples, buy organic, as they won’t even be pesticide free if scrubbed or peeled
  • Pears consistently show high levels of pesticides when tested
  • Cherries continually rank high for pesticide contamination
  • Peaches require a large amount of pesticides to grow conventionally and have extremely delicate skin, making them a must for organic choice with nectarines not far behind
  • Strawberries are treated with very large amounts of pesticides, including fungicides, so again buy organic
  • Imported grapes are likely to have higher pesticide levels than domestic. Vineyards may be sprayed with a number of different pesticides throughout the growing season. Grapes having a permeable skin, even peeling will not eliminate the residues
  • Bell peppers again having thin skins and are heavily sprayed with insecticides make these a must to buy organic
  • Celery not having a protective outer layer and needing many different chemicals for conventional growth, making this another veg on the organic list
  • Lettuce and spinach are often found to have high levels of various pesticides – sometimes very potent types
  • Potatoes are at high risk for pesticide contamination and may also be affected by chemicals, such as fungicides, in the surrounding soil

Not all foods have to be purchased organic.

  • Pineapples and mangos have a tough, thick skin that protects the fruit inside from harmful pesticide
  • Avocados also have a rigid skin that protects the inner flesh
  • The kiwis with their thick fuzzy skin are again more protected
  • Banana, papaya, blueberries, watermelon and mango could be non organic fruit purchases
  • Sweet peas because of their pods are safe from pesticides
  • Asparagus and onions don’t attract many pests in the form of insects or disease, so it’s not heavily sprayed with pesticides
  • Cabbage doesn’t need much help to grow so not many chemicals are sprayed on them
  • Eggplant again has a thick skin as a protective barrier making this a vegetable to buy non organic
  • Sweet potatoes are ranked among the lowest in pesticide residue
  • Onions are a particularly clean crop, bugs don’t seem terribly interested in feasting on onions, so they aren’t sprayed as heavily with pesticides as some other vegetables
  • Organic meat, milk, and eggs are free of antibiotics, added growth hormones, and pesticides. Organically raised animals eat an organic diet that does not contain pesticides or fertilisers. Unlike their conventional counterparts, the animals used for organic products are raised without antibiotics or hormones and the chemicals present in animal feed can end up in conventional meat, dairy, and eggs.

I do try to buy organic wherever possible even if this means buying a little less, and I do believe the best approach is to eat a healthy, varied diet, wash and scrub all produce thoroughly, and buy organic whenever possible.

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